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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 24, 2010

The unimaginable suffering of the people of Haiti has gripped the attentive hearts of the world community. Horrific images of devastation cause many of us to be generous in response to their national calamity, but as charitable as we can be, we feel the confines of our powerlessness. The best some of us can do is to come together to pray and to receive comfort from the word of God. We see this is the first reading when Ezra, the prophet Nehemiah’s scribe, assembles the people as the return from exile to rebuild and repopulate their city. They naturally weep – in mourning and sorrow, but also in joy for the goodness that they see in others because of their own calamity. In times of challenge, we get nourished through hearing our scripture – the reassuring words of God’s care for us.

Paul’s words to the Corinthians are a balm to our ears today. The Body of Christ has many parts and each part contributes wholly to its healthy functioning. Though Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, they are by no means less than any other nation. Our scripture reminds us that when one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and today we are all suffering. For the past several weeks, we have looked at the gifts that have been given to us. Gratefully, many of us have already stepped out of ourselves to use our gifts well in response to Haiti’s crisis. Forget about how insignificant you may feel your contribution may be. It is vitally important for you and for those who are suffering. Your gift in whatever form it takes, because it stems from your compassion, is fully appreciated.

Do note however that before Jesus began to use his gifts for the good of the community he spent time in the desert to pray. It was his time of solace and a place where he needed to chew on the dimensions of the ministry that he was to undertake. We likewise need this time away to help us unpack the nuances of our response to God’s invitations. As we decide how we will use our gifts, let us first take time to pray for the suffering people of Haiti. Let us look for Christ standing in their midst and comforting them as he tells them that he is their real hope and the fulfillment of all their desires.

Quote for the Week

Gerard Manley Hopkins provided a translation of Adoro Te Devote, a medieval hymn written by Thomas Aquinas about the hidden nature of God who reveals himself in the Blessed Sacrament:

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: This week we appropriately pause in our schedule to remember Paul’s work as a missionary to the Gentiles. We resume on Wednesday with David’s desire to build a fitting and glorious house for the Lord, but the Lord promises David to make of his house a great nation in which the Lord shall act as a caring father. David shows that even as king he needs parental correction as he acts in a debased way with Bathsheba and treacherously to her husband, Uriah. The prophet Nathan helps David see his sinful actions, but he lets him know that the Lord has forgiven him. However, the child of David and Bathsheba would take ill as punishment. King David weeps.

Gospel: Jesus alarms many people as he begins his ministry in Mark’s Gospel. His brothers and his mother think he is out of his mind, but Jesus sets about to create a new family based on doing the will of God. He begins to teach by use of parables and he explains that in his ministry he will be like a sower of seeds on various soils. The one who truly hears and accepts the word will bear fruit like a seed planted in fertile soil. The kingdom of God is a mystery that he can observe but never know why or how it comes about. After teaching the crowds, Jesus takes a boat to the other side of the lake with his disciples. When a violent squall assaults the boat, Jesus demonstrates power over the natural elements of the earth. He shows he is mighty in both deed and word.

Saints of the Week

Monday: The Conversion of Paul was a momentous event in the life of the church because Paul’s theology, missionary work and pastoral leadership defined Christianity beyond the realm of Jerusalem. He built the foundation of Christianity. Three accounts of his conversion are recorded by the author of the Acts of the Apostles and he speaks of its significance in a few of his letters.

Tuesday: Timothy and Titus, bishops, were Paul’s disciples who were left to build up the churches that Paul founded in the Mediterranean world. Timothy oversaw Ephesus, while Titus looked after Crete. Paul’s pastoral letters to each helped them govern the fledgling communities of faith.

Wednesday: Angela Merici founded the Ursuline order of nuns in the 16th century. Since she was orphaned, Angela devoted her time to educate the poor and to gain beneficence for her efforts, she invoked the intercession of Ursula, the patron of medieval universities.

Thursday: Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor, compiled a summary of theology that became the bedrock for catechesis and seminary formation for centuries. Thomas, a Dominican who studied at Benedictine monasteries, wrote many brilliant works on scripture and theology. He also compiled beautiful hymns that are still used today for solemn occasions, like the Pange Lingua, Tantum Ergo, and Adoro Te Devote.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jan 24, 1645. Fr Henry Morse was led as a prisoner from Durham to Newgate, London. On hearing his execution was fixed for February 1, he exclaimed: "Welcome ropes, hurdles, gibbets, knives, butchery of an infamous death! Welcome for the love of Jesus, my Savior."
• Jan 25, 1707. Cardinal Tournon, Apostolic Visitor of the missions in China, forbade the use of the words 'Tien' or 'Xant' for God and ordered the discontinuance by the Christians of the Chinese Rites.
• Jan 26, 1611. The first Jesuit missionaries sailed from Europe for New France (Canada).
• Jan 27, 1870. The Austrian government endeavored to suppress the annual grant of 8,000 florins to the theological faculty of Innsbruck and to drive the Jesuit professors from the university, because of their support of the Papal Syllabus.
• Jan 28, 1853. Fr General John Roothaan, wishing to resign his office, summoned a General Congregation, but died on May 8, before it assembled.
• Jan 29, 1923. Woodstock scholastics kept a fire vigil for several months to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from setting the college on fire.
• Jan 30, 1633. At Avignon, Fr John Pujol, a famous master of novices, died. He ordered one of them to water a dry stick, which miraculously sprouted.

Haiti Relief

As we continue to stand in sorrowful solidarity with the people of Haiti and all who come to support them in their national trauma, we pray and we respond generously in the relief efforts. I direct you to the website of the Jesuit Relief Services at jrsusa@jesuit.org. Thank you in advance for your spiritual and financial aid.


Please note that I will keep my blog updated during my tertianship program, but there might be times when I cannot send out the weekly distribution of email. Check online predmore.blogspot.com for the weekly and daily updates. I will also include news of my tertian program at predmoresj.blogspot.com.

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